My Thoughts

From Where Does Inspiration Come?

Someone made a comment on my blog yesterday, asking me where do I get the inspiration for my writing–that spurred me to think about it, and I promised my reader I would respond. I love this kind of analytical musing!

I wrote This Tumbleweed Landed over 30 years ago in response to a class assignment. As a writing teacher, I attended a National Writing Project workshop and during one session, the facilitator asked us to grab a children’s book from the stack and use it as a writing prompt. I selected Waiting to Waltz by Cynthia Rylant, a cycle of thirty poems chronicles a young girl’s growing up in a small Appalachian town.

The waltz title attracted me because I love to dance. After I read it, I thought, “I can write a collection of poems about my childhood,” and that’s what I did.

I found the topic for my next book, When Will Papa Get Home?, one day when my parents and I were rummaging through an old homestead on our family ranch. I found a blue marble lodged between the front step and the house. I asked my dad who did it belong to, and he dismissed it with probably an arrowhead hunter.

I went home that summer and wrote this story about the blue marble and the factual owner of the homestead and what happened to him. He was accused of being a cattle rustler; I fictionalized it and made him a horse thief and the blue marble became an intricate piece in the story.

My next book, Let Me Tell You a Story, my dad dictated to my mom the story of how my grandfather put our family ranch together during the depression, then I typed it up and put it in book form with pictures. It was my dad’s 75th birthday present from Mom and me, and he loved it.

My therapist urged me to publish my last book, A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir. I wrote poetry as a part of my grief process when my mom died and shared it with my therapist. She wanted it available for her daughters when she died. It is a collection of poetry and prose describing my grief and growth process in losing my parents.

I wasn’t looking for my current project–it fell into lap. I was encouraged by my husband and friends to offer to write the biography of Marshall Flippo, a 90-year-old world famous square dance caller. I had just finished a woman’s fiction in NaNoWriMo in November 2016 and thought I would publish that next, but the biography took priority because of Marshall’s age. I interviewed him for one hour weekly for over a year, and it will be released at the end of this year.

I’ve written about my family, our ranch and my childhood. That’s the inspiration I’ve had for my books.

For my poetry, imagines and ideas come to me softly, and I try to quiet down and listen to the message. I jot the idea down and list it on a database of ideas I have on my iPad–it seems I never have a problem with topics. In fact, I have so many ideas, I don’t have time to write them all. Sometimes, those untreated ideas scream at me to be created–it gets noisy in my head.

From where does your inspiration come? How do you deal with it?

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